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The Stream

Emeka Ikebude's avatar Emeka Ikebude

In a community in northern Nigeria, a small stream caters for all the water needs of the population. In a corner of the stream, a woman is fetching drinking water, another woman is doing laundry, and a third bathes her child. Further up, a man is almost defecating into the stream next to where a herd of cattle is drinking. As a child growing up in Enugu, a hilly city in eastern Nigeria, dry streams, taps that never ran, women trudging under heavy loads of water with babies strapped to their backs, and children beating stony paths with bare feet as they made endless trips to distant sources of water were familiar sights to me. They are familiar, also, to many of the 3 billion people currently affected by water scarcity globally. In The Stream project, I have employed painstaking techniques to transform rope, wood, dowels, fabric, light-emitting diodes, water, and pigments into an installation that engenders a rethinking of the problems of global water scarcity. Based on the imageries of a teary eye, water, and women, The Stream mirrors the society as it is, but awakens a sense of discovery in the viewer. In the upper section, bits of squares and dowels form a surreal landscape representing the space of liminality . This technique references the fracturing of the society with each unit becoming a tessera of my memory of another time. The eyeball is designed with LEDs to create an illusional, yet immersive, experience of walking in an 'endless path' of memory. The mid-section is a water fountain formed (mentally) from the rivulets of tears. Its flow breaks boundaries, and becomes a metaphor for contrasting my native country, where basic infrastructures are non-existent in most places, with the one I live in, where abundance often leads to excessive consumption and wastage. The lower section represents the space of temporal existence; the forms are locked in their pursuit of ever-shifting dreams, and indicate the critical roles that traditions and cultural practices play in the “effeminization” of poverty.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 3-D
  • Depth: 42 Inches
  • Medium: Multimedia
  • Width: 108 Inches
  • Year created: 2015
  • Height: 90 Inches